Luther, Cranach and the Reformation of the image
Cranach the Elder has long been known as the painter of the Reformation. His friendship and collaboration with Luther are well documented. Cranach produced propaganda in support of Luther’s message; he designed the woodcuts that illustrated Luther’s 1522 September and December New Testament, and those that illustrated his 1529 Large and Small Catechism; he produced portraits of the reformer and of Katharina von Bora, and numerous illustrated title pages and borders for Luther’s pamphlets, sermons and other writings. His Wittenberg workshop created evangelical altarpieces for churches in Schneeberg (1539), Schloss Hartenfels in Torgau (1545) and Wittenberg (1547). It was, however, under his son that the workshop’s production for Lutheran patrons really accelerated. Against the backdrop of the 1555 the Religious Peace of Augsburg commissions for Lutheran church furnishings – above all altarpieces and epitaphs – began to grow. Under Cranach the Younger the Wittenberg workshop also continued to produce portraits of Luther and Philip Melanchthon, and depictions of traditional iconographies such as the Law and Gospel.
This seminar will explore the prints and paintings produced by the Cranach workshop in the service of the Reformation, giving participants an opportunity to engage at first hand with the rich selection of images that remain in Wittenberg today. It will situate these Lutheran images within broader traditions of late-medieval religious art and its iconoclastic destruction during the Reformation era, and it will draw extensively on recent research publications produced for the 2015 quincentenary of Cranach the Younger’s birth: Elke A. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder (2015); Roland Enke, Katja Schneider, Jutta Strehle eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere: Entdeckung eines Meisters (2015); Jan Harasimowicz, Bettina Seyderhelm eds., Cranachs Kirche (2015).
Languages: German and English